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A consultant, as defined by the dictionary, is ‘ an expert in a particular field who works as an advisor either to a company or to another individual’. It is a business path which has flourished in recent years, with many people leaving their jobs to set up on their own and use their wisdom and expertise to help others.
Anyone can be a consultant. However, what makes the difference between a good consultant, such as Pedram Zohrevand and a not-so-good one is passion, drive and enthusiasm for the subject they are offering consultancy about.
Here, we look at some of the things that you need to think about if you are considering setting up as a consultant in your field.
Take time to network
Networking enables you to make connections with others in your field, stay in touch with key individuals, make yourself known to prospective clients and seek introductions that can help your business to progress. If you meet someone in a professional capacity, find some way to connect with them.
Find your niche
Don’t try to give everyone something and spread yourself too wide. By applying your knowledge and experience to a niche market which needs what you have to offer, you will be a far more successful consultant. By doing this, you can tailor your services so that they add value to a particular group of people or businesses.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- In your industry or geographical location, what services are missing?
- What is your area of expertise?
- What problems can you solve than no one else can?
- Who can benefit from your knowledge and experience the most?
After defining what you do in a clear and succinct way, you will know who your ideal client is and how you can market and sell your services.
Rehearse your talking points
Your talking points should be thought of as sound bites: short and concise descriptions of what you offer and how. This is a key part of pitching and marketing your consultancy business.
These talking points should clarify what you are doing, and, more importantly, illustrate the reasons why you are different from others in your industry and strengthen the value that you can bring to a client.
Things you need to cover in your talking points include:
- How you can help your clients
- What they will they get after utilising your service
- The benefits that your services can and will provide
Rehearse saying these out loud – if necessary, ask a colleague or a mentor to listen and offer constructive criticism. Remember to leave opportunities to listen; a good consultant will spend more time listening than talking. Ask questions so that you can find out more about your client
Have a plan for the next stage
All businesses are more successful if they have a plan for what comes next, in both the short and the longer term. A consultancy business is no different.
Have a plan for how you commence a project in the short term. Be prepared, so that when a client agrees on the work, you can set a timeframe and expectations as to how you will work together and provide the appropriate resources.
You need to be mindful of where your business will fit into the market in the longer term, how you will advertise your services and your expectations for growth and revenue. The best way of doing this is by creating a business plan to manage expectations and goals for the next twelve months, five years and ten years.